1&1 hasn’t made our best web hosting list, mainly because of its dated website design and poor usability. That said, the German web host isn’t down for the count. The recent redesign of its website and rebranding to 1&1 IONOS did wonders for the service, making it one of the top competitors in the web hosting space.
In this 1&1 IONOS review, we’re going to talk through our experience after launching a website with its most inexpensive shared hosting. Though the enhanced usability is a focus in this review, we’re also going to talk about speed, security, features and more before giving our verdict.
If you asked us a year ago about 1&1, we would’ve steered you away, but that isn’t the case now. Its prices are highly competitive, especially considering its robust feature set and quick speed. Though still lacking in areas, 1&1 IONOS is worthy of your consideration.
Strengths & Weaknesses
- Easy to use control panel
- PHP OPcache
- Free SSL/TLS certificate
- Daily backups
- Free domain privacy
- Managed WordPress hosting
- No VPS hosting
- Mediocre support
- No malware scanning on low-end plans
Alternatives for 1&1 IONOS Web Hosting
It’s rare to find a web host that includes flashy features such as ad credits while also providing performance optimization. In most cases, they fall in one or the other camp (read our iPage review for an example). Thankfully, 1&1 IONOS provides both, giving you extras to get started while maintaining performance optimization.
1&1 IONOS configures your website with gzip when you set it up, which compresses the files on your website, effectively increasing your speed. Though gzip is free to install, it can be difficult, especially for newcomers. 1&1 IONOS puts the script in your “htaccess” file from the start, so you never have to worry about compressing your files.
Plus, you get OPcache with PHP. It stores scripts in the memory of the server, so PHP doesn’t need to fetch and load the scripts each time they need to be run. As with gzip, you can configure it on your own, but the process will be difficult for newcomers.
Those performance optimizations are standard. All shared plans include OPcache and gzip, along with HTTP/2. That said, you can upgrade your tier for more RAM and a higher PHP memory limit.
All that goes on behind the scenes, though. As for what you can see, 1&1 IONOS offers $100 in Bing ad credits, several mailing lists depending on your plan, auto-generated Google sitemaps and website analytics.
There’s a website builder, too, but it didn’t make our best website builders list. If you want to know our thoughts on it, read our 1&1 Website Builder review.
1&1 IONOS has many other features, too, but they’re mostly focused on security, so we’ll talk about them in the corresponding section below. As for non-security features, its lineup is solid, fit with plenty of performance enhancing features while not skimping on the stuff that makes your site more functional.
1&1 IONOS Features Overview
|Web Application Firewall|
|Live Chat Support|
1&1 IONOS not only has excellent pricing, it’s transparent about it. Renewal prices are clarified and there’s no multi-year nonsense when it comes to the price you’re paying. The service is inexpensive and clear, which is rare in the web hosting market.
Shared hosting starts at $4 per month, which doesn’t look impressive compared to Hostinger (read our Hostinger review), but, unlike most web hosts, 1&1 IONOS isn’t advertising a multi-year rate. Shared plans have no contracts, meaning you’re paying $4 per month, every month, until you cancel.
That’s unheard of in the web hosting world. Compared to FatCow’s $15 renewal rate, 1&1 IONOS is a deal (read our FatCow review), but what stands out most about the service is that it doesn’t ask you to remember a complex pricing scheme to get started. Shared plans have a single price and no contracts.
The other plans have more going on. For example, managed WordPress plans are offered monthly or annually, and like shared hosting, you’ll pay the full price if you go month-to-month. That said, there’s an initial offer with all three tiers of WordPress hosting that gives you the first six months for only $6 if you buy a year.
Alternatively, you can add managed WordPress service to your shared plan for $3 per month.
That’s one of a few add-ons you can add to your plan during checkout. 1&1 IONOS also asks if you want to add SiteLock Premium, HiDrive Basic and List Local Essential, each of which comes with a free, 30-day trial. The offers are fine, but as you can read in our HiDrive review, there are better cloud storage options.
All plans are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee, which is decent, but not as good as InMotion Hosting’s three-month refund window (read our InMotion Hosting review). What’s most impressive here is how 1&1 manages to keep prices low while maintaining full transparency during checkout.
Ease of Use
The last time we reviewed 1&1’s web hosting service, we talked a lot about the dated website design and how difficult it was to get around. Thankfully, it got a facelift, which brought with it not only a fresh coat of paint, but also an intuitive user experience.
1&1 IONOS’s checkout is reminiscent of Kinsta’s (read our Kinsta review). Like that host, 1&1 IONOS has an enclosed platform, meaning once you sign up, you don’t need to tab away to access your account. The checkout process is simple: find the plan you want, register a domain if you need to, select add-ons you want and complete your purchase.
You’ll also sign up for an account during checkout, which is important. Many hosts simply ask for your email, then send a generated password to the address. With 1&1 IONOS, you’ll create an account as part of checkout. Once that’s done, you’ll land on an order confirmation screen that asks you to wait while the control panel is being set up.
What’s great is that you never need to leave 1&1 IONOS’s website. When purchasing your plan, you’ll stay on the website from choosing your plan to entering your control panel.
The control panel is a proprietary design, so if you’re looking for cPanel, check out our best web hosting with cPanel guide. Proprietary doesn’t mean bad, though, and that’s the case with 1&1 IONOS. You’re greeted with a tile-like interface that shows the different sections of your package, including domains, email and hosting.
Each of those sections can be set as your homepage, so if you’re only concerned with hosting, the control panel can boot you directly there. The individual pages have the same tile-like design, allowing you to quickly see the features 1&1 IONOS offers. For example, there’s a PHP and database section on the hosting screen.
Installing a platform such as WordPress is simple, too. You simply select the domain you want, then choose the platform you want to install. After that’s done, 1&1 IONOS gives you an overview of your website, including a snapshot of what it looks like, the active email addresses on the domain, if the SSL/TLS certificate is enabled and more.
The redesigned interface is leaps better than the old one. Instead of the disjointed mess before, 1&1 IONOS’s control panel is clean and intuitive, focusing on usability without sacrificing power. Though not the familiar face of cPanel, the proprietary design works well.
1&1 IONOS offers three types of hosting: shared, cloud and dedicated. There are variations on the shared packages, but it boils down to those three types.
The basic shared plan is simply called “web hosting,” and 1&1 IONOS offers three tiers of it. Shared hosting is where multiple websites are hosted on the same server, effectively sharing the resources it has. 1&1 IONOS’s lineup is solid, with a beginner plan for small websites and a high-end one for growing platforms.
WordPress plans also use a shared architecture, but they’re managed by 1&1 IONOS. That means WordPress comes preinstalled when you check out, along with themes and plugins. 1&1 IONOS will automatically keep your WordPress core up to date, too, so you won’t have to worry about falling behind.
That said, there’s an advantage to using 1&1 IONOS over some of our best web hosting for WordPress picks. You can use the Gutenberg Editor, which is the latest tool offered by WordPress, with any of 1&1 IONOS’s themes, making it simple to put together your website.
Cloud hosting is a big addition to the lineup. It still houses your website on a single server, but that server calls on a network of underlying servers for more resources. That means your website will have more power available to it, no matter how big of a traffic spike.
1&1 IONOS offers four managed cloud plans, each fit with a customizable stack and installation scripts. Plus, you’re only charged for the resources you use. 1&1 IONOS bills by the minute and gives you an estimate of how much you’ll be paying each month. That flexibility allows your website to handle any amount of traffic without you worrying about upgrading to a higher plan.
At the top, there are dedicated plans, which, as the name implies, give you a server to yourself. 1&1 IONOS has two sets of dedicated servers, one that uses traditional hard drives and one that uses solid-state drives. Unlike the dedicated plans at, say, Arvixe, 1&1 IONOS has a lot of power behind its dedicated servers (read our Arvixe review).
The most expensive server uses an Intel Xeon E3-1270v6 processor, which performs about a third better than the Intel Xeon E3-1230v2 that a lot of web hosts use. Plus, dedicated plans are outfitted with SiteLock protection and Cloudflare’s Railgun caching system. Though we normally shy away from recommending dedicated plans, 1&1 IONOS’s lineup is solid.
Speed & Uptime
Speed is one of 1&1 IONOS’s strong points, rivaling the likes of A2 Hosting on its most inexpensive plan (read our A2 Hosting review). That said, this section isn’t all positives. Our testing suggests that the shared servers are packed full, which may mean that your website won’t always be accessible.
Our testing was done with a blank copy of WordPress on the most inexpensive shared plan. The numbers we gathered are from Pingdom Speed Test to gauge an isolated response and Load Impact, which simulates the website under load.
The Pingdom Speed Test results were excellent, with 1&1 IONOS returning a score of 96 out of 100, which is worthy of our fastest web hosting guide. DNS requests accounted for a large percentage of time, which makes sense considering we were testing on a domain registered with a different provider. Outside of that, 1&1 IONOS’s performance was among the best we’ve seen.
Unfortunately, that didn’t carry over to our Load Impact test. The test sent 50 virtual users to the website over five minutes in attempt to see how the server reacts under load. 1&1 IONOS started strong, but as the user load increased, the load time did, too. Plus, the latter half of the test had a lot of HTTP errors.
That suggests the website is running out of resources. The more HTTP errors, the more the server is struggling to keep up with requests, which isn’t a good sign for our modest simulation. Our website started to break around 30 users. Though it’d make sense if it was breaking around a few hundred, the bar is set too low at 1&1 IONOS.
That said, we tested the most inexpensive shared plan. Based on 1&1 IONOS’s marketing material, the higher-tier shared plans can handle more simultaneous users. If that’s a concern for you, we recommend getting one of the most expensive plans. Unlike with GreenGeeks, we suspect our results were a limitation of the plan we tested (read our GreenGeeks review).
Thankfully, 1&1 IONOS has an uptime guarantee. Though you have to dig into the terms and conditions to find it, 1&1 IONOS guarantees that you’ll have 99.99 percent uptime while your website is hosted there. You must prove to 1&1 IONOS that it failed to meet that threshold, but if you do, you’ll be compensated for the time your website was down based on your monthly rate.
1&1 IONOS has an excellent security suite. The features are impressive, but the fact that they’re included with all plans stands out even more. No matter where you’re buying in, your site will be secure. If you’re curious about what goes into that, read our website security guide.
It starts with an SSL/TLS certificate. 1&1 IONOS includes a wildcard certificate for free, which will allow users to connect to your website through an encrypted tunnel. Wildcard certificates can be used on unlimited subdomains, so they’re a great way for web hosts to save money while offering the certificate for free. They’re not suitable for e-commerce websites, though.
Even so, the fact that 1&1 IONOS includes an SSL/TLS certificate at all is great. Also provided are daily backups and data recovery. Though we always recommend backing up your website manually, having a fail-safe is never a bad idea.
Behind the scenes, 1&1 IONOS has distributed denial-of-service attack protection, geo-redundancy and redundant network connectivity. In short, that means your server should be live through almost anything, including the ever-terrifying DDoS attack.
Unfortunately, there’s no malware scanning or removal, at least on the cheap end. SiteLock, which is basically an antivirus for your website, is introduced at the highest tier of shared hosting and carries through WordPress and dedicated packages. Though we like seeing SiteLock on expensive plans, basic malware scanning on the low end would be nice.
1&1 IONOS is among the few hosts that seem to care about user privacy. It fits in the same category as DreamHost, offering free domain privacy and clear terms for how your data is handled (read our DreamHost review). When it comes to privacy, it’s a far cry from the shady practices of Endurance International Group (read our HostGator review to see them in action).
The most important part is free domain privacy. When you register a domain, you’re required to put your information on record. That information is available online, meaning anyone who wants to can find your name, address, phone number, email and more.
Domain privacy replaces your personal information with information from the registrar, so, for example, the record would show “1&1 IONOS” as the name instead of yours. Few web hosts include domain privacy for free, and the fact that 1&1 IONOS does speaks volumes.
It seems like 1&1 IONOS is trying to remind you of your privacy at every turn. In your account dashboard, there’s a section dedicated to data protection and privacy that shows what you’re consenting to by using the service and information about the General Data Protection Regulation.
Privacy isn’t talked about much when it comes to web hosting, and that means large web hosting companies have been able to take advantage of their users. Companies such as DreamHost are changing that, and we’re happy to see 1&1 IONOS join the charge.
There are a lot of support options with 1&1 IONOS, but our brief experience with live chat wasn’t too pleasant. There’s a push for you to register a new domain or transfer your existing domain, so we asked about setting up an external domain. The support rep was rude, replying with only “yes” and “setup external domain.”
That’s likely a result of the personal consultant system. When you open an account, you can choose to have a personal consultant who’ll answer questions over phone or live chat. Though a great concept, the quality of support suffers. You may know who you’re talking to, but that doesn’t improve the support.
SiteGround is a great comparison. As you can read in our SiteGround review, it offers excellent support, and one of the reasons is because there’s a name and face associated with who you’re talking to. Unlike with 1&1 IONOS, though, the support is already good, so putting a name with the rep simply enhances the experience.
That said, 1&1 IONOS has a lot of direct contact options, so long as you’re willing to pry for answers. You shouldn’t need too much, though. The knowledgebase is large, with topics ranging from basic account management to complex web development.
It’s easy to get through, too, but some of the articles are short. 1&1 IONOS is to-the-point when it comes to support, and that shows in the knowledgebase. Complex articles are simply treated with a list of steps instead of a long form tutorial with screenshots.
The quality of support is what suffers. There are plenty of options, and they get the job done, but we’ve had better support experiences elsewhere.
1&1’s rebranding and redesign did wonders for the service. Instead of the clunky mess it was before, 1&1 IONOS feels like one of the top contenders, offering inexpensive, full-featured hosting that’s fast. Support could use work, but everything else about the service is excellent.
Even so, it’s missing VPS hosting and our Load Impact results were less than desirable.
What do you think of 1&1 IONOS? Let us know in the comments below and, as always, thanks for reading.